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In the year 1819, Stephen and Jesse Bourn 'were arrested, tried and condemned, in the State of Vermont, for the murder of one Colvin, the time and place of their execution was appointed, and no doubt of their guilt was indulged but behold, just before the hour of their execution arrived, the said Colvin returned home hearty and well, and had not been injured! Here was much smoke but no fire -no murder, no crime had been committed on the said Colvin, or on any other person by any one. In the year 1820, John C. Decker and Gideon Braman were arrested, tried and condemned to hard labour in the State Prison of New-York during their natural lives, for a burglary committed in Kinderhook; and after having been confined and laboured there about four months, it was undeniably proved that the said burglary was committed by George Lanman, and that they were entirely ignorant and innocent of the whole transaction. They were released and Lanman is now in their place. Here again was smoke but no fire, as it respected them. It is not long, since Joseph Inman was arrested, tried and condemned to be hung within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts for the murder of Oliver Holmes: but before the time of execution arrived, Judge Arnold, in passing through the town of Dedham, or its vicinity, met the said Holmes on the road, hearty and well, had not been injured. The Judge knew him, took him into his carriage, conveyed him to the proper authority, and saved the life of the said Inman. It is not long, since a man of East Hartford was arrested, tried before the Superior Court of Connecticut for forging a note; he was declared guilty, condemned and imprisoned in Newgate. But it was afterwards proved that the said note was forged by one Peck, and that he was innocent of the crime; he was released and Peck run away. It is not long since two men by the name of Snow were arrested, in the County of Windham and State of Connecticut, for burning a paper mill in that place. They were tried before the Superior Court, declared guilty, and sentenced to imprisonment in Newgate state prison, in Simsbury mines, for life, and there they both died, constantly protesting their innocence to their last breath; and it is
now beyond a doubt that they were faisely accused and unjustly condemned, and that the building was burnt by one Salter, who, it is said, has since confessed it.* It is not long since a Mr. Berger was arrested, tried, condemned, and underwent the most exemplary and severe punishment in Baltimore, in the state of Maryland, for stealing $1,000 from a widow woman; he was, whipped, cropped, branded, and sentenced to six months imprisonment in irons; but within a few weeks the money was found and recovered from a man in Virginia; and undeniably proved that Berger was entirely innocent of the crime. In the year 1819, James Lanman, Esq. one of the most violent federal Presbyterian, persecuting men in Connecticut, for party, sectarian and political purposes; and to destroy me as a minister of the Gospel, brought an information against me for committing crimes with Asenath Caroline Smith, a single woman, in Griswold, in the county of New-London, and state of Connecticut. In October, 1820, I had my trial, (if it can be called a trial,) the particulars of which will be stated hereafter. I was declared guilty, suffered two years imprisonment in the common jail in Norwich in said county and within a few months after I was released, I proved beyond all contradiction, before a joint committee of both houses of the honorable Gen Assembly of Connecticut, in the Senate Chamber, in the City of Hartford, that I was not and for a long time had not been within about one hundred miles of Griswold, or of the said Asenath, where and when the crimes were committed, if they were ever committed by any one: nay, she herself appeared in person before the said committee in the said Senate chamber, and made solemn oath, which certainly was true, that I was absolutely innocent of the whole transaction, for which, on her account, I had unjustly suffered two year's imprisonment: that she had been over-persuaded and hired by the said Lanman and others, to accuse me falsely, and to commit perjury, which
*On his death bed, and not two hours before he died Salter confessed that he himself burnt that paper-mill, and swore falsely against these two men by which they were condemned and suffered death in the State Prision, Sis bury mines..
had broken her peace of mind, and caused her more sorrow, trouble and tears, than all the transactions of her life besides.
This her confession and testimony were supported by the testimony of others, and my innocence could not but be apparent to every unprejudiced mind. Oh, how I fear. how I tremble! how I feel for those poor, unfortunate, miserable creatures who have committed, and been accessary to the dreadful sin of perjury! have they indeed formed a plan! have they devised means, have they effected the dreadful purpose of the disgrace, imprisonment and utter ruin, in this world, of an innocent man, of a minister of the Gospel, of one who had always been their friend! Oh, how I lament, how I deplore and bemoan their sin, their ingratitude, their baseness!-"Oh, that my head were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.'
For courts of law to err is not uncommon; but the injustice of which I here complain, is neither common nor small; I feel to forgive my enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, but I desire that truth and justice may come to sight; that perjury, wickedness and vice may be suppressed. "He that hath an ear to hear let him hear." In this world the justice and goodness of the divine government will often escape the satisfaction of the most pious and diligent inquirer; the innocent are often condemned, while the guilty go clear, and with a fair char acter. Virtue is condemned to the punishment of vice, and vice receives the reward of virtue. Jesus Christ, himseli, is born in a manger, while the murderous Herod who had put 14000 children to death, who were two years old and under, ascends the throne of Israel. good St. Paul is a prisoner in chains, while the bloody Nero sways the sceptre of the whole Roman Empire. The good John Rogers is burnt at the stake in Smithfield, by the Roman Catholics, while the infamous Bonner is the first Bishop in England. The good Lewis the sixteenth is beheaded, while the ambitious and hypocritical Bonaparte, who had drenched Europe with blood, murdered 6000 men between Java and Gaza in Asia, and
changed God's holy Sabbaths to the tenth day, ascende the throne of France. The amiable Major Andre is hung at West Point, like a thief, and a murderer, while the traitorous and detestable Arnold is a Major General. The Rev. Ammi Rogers is a prisoner in Norwich, in Connecticut, while the hypocritical, coxcomical and detestable James Lanman, who had maliciously brought this prosecution, is a Senator of the United States, while the suborners of perjury in the case of Mr. Rogers are at the bar, or in the faculty; but now by the just judgment of God, are stripped of the small portion of respect which they once received.
That equal justice is always done to all men in this world, is not true; and on this ground, even the heathen philosophers very justly argued the existence of a God, and the immortality of the soul; for say they, if there be a God, he must be a God of justice; and since all men do not receive equal justice in this world, there must be a future state of existence, in which the righteous Governor of the Universe will evidently distinguish between those who love and practice that which is just and good, and those who do not. In this world, the best and most moral men, the very salt of the earth, are often despised and neglected; nay, they are insulted, scandalized, persecuted, imprisoned, and even put to death as the worst of human beings; while cheats, thieves, liars, adulterers, and duellists, who are murderers; nay, the very vilest and most profane and immoral men, the very offscouring of all human society, are caressed and admired, are voted, for and promoted; they ride upon the high places of the earth, and walk in robes or lawn, they are adorned with a CROWN, or a MITRE, and are unmindful of their mortality or accountability. But the venerable Dr. Watts very excellently describes their situation in his paraphrase on the 73d Psalm, when he says,
"Lord, what a thoughtless wretch was I
In the final judgment of the world, the justice and goodness of the divine government, will be made manifest to every understanding. Then shall the innocent be protected, while the guilty are confounded. Then shall the meek, the humble, and the persecuted be exalted and rewarded; while the proud, the unjust, the malicious, and oppressive shall be brought low and punished. In that day, there will be nothing hid which shall not be made manifest, there will be no deception which shall not be detected, no injustice which shall not be rectified; and unless by faith and repentance we come to God, in the appointed means of divine grace, we shall all likewise perish. The justice of God must be vindicated, the guilty must be punished, the innocent must be protected and rewarded, or the throne of Heaven must fall.
By the deeds of the law no flesh can live. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God: but in, and through hin "who died for our offences and rose again for our justification," every son and daughter of the human race may obtain forgiveness and be forever happy with the Lord and with each other.
Though from my fellow men I have not deserved the disgrace, the imprisonment, and the affliction loaded upon me, and upon my friends; yet before that God unto whom "all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid," in other respects I have often offended in thought, word and deed and as I hope and expect God, for Christ's sake to forgive me; so l feel in my heart to forgive my enemies, persecutors and slanderers, and pray God to turn their hearts. Still I feel it my duty, in the promotion of truth and justice, in the suppression of perjury, wickedness and vice, and in the conveyance of that knowledge which may be honorable to God and useful to mankind, to lay before the public the following Memoirs, which I entreat the reader to peruse with attention, and consider with candor; and to believe me his persecuted friend and humble servant in the ministry of the Gospel of peace and reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebron, October 7th, 1823.